IPSWICH TRIP ADVISOR
EACH MONTH IN QT MAGAZINE WE’RE GIVING YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE DETAILS OF YOUR TRAVELS, YOUR HOLIDAY STORIES AND WHAT ADVICE YOU’D GIVE TO OTHER PEOPLE LOOKING TO DO THE SAME.
This month’s Trip Advisor is Nathan Sewell from Karrabin who shared with QT Magazine all the ins and outs of his visit to Japan earlier this year, at a time when Cherry Blossoms were in all their glory. Nathan took his family for the holiday of a lifetime full of theme parks, shopping and some of the most amazing street food you’ll ever see. Who went on your holiday? The whole family. Myself, my wife Steph, and our three children Saffy,12, Poppy, 10, and Will, 8. Where did you go? Tokyo, Japan for 10 days. Why did you choose Japan? This was our first big overseas holiday as a family so we wanted somewhere where we knew we would have a good time but was also safe and easy to navigate as a tourist. Steph and I had wanted to go to Japan for quite a while mainly due to our love of Japanese food but also we knew there were attractions for our children. Our girls love anime and Will is a big Pokémon fan. The combination of cultural experiences, food and attractions for kids made it seem like a great place for our first big family overseas holiday. Also there is a Disneyland in Tokyo and what kid doesn’t want to go to Disneyland? How did you plan ahead? I have to start by saying I am a research guy, and love researching and planning for holidays. The research started with the Lonely Planet Guide to Tokyo and from there it went several directions, travel agents, websites, YouTube and friends who had been there previously. The Lonely Planet guide was a great place to start and from there I would research the web around places to stay and visit. I found a couple of great websites Tokyo-cheapo.com and japan-guide.com These were a resource based around where to go and what to eat in Tokyo. I also watched a stack of YouTube videos with the family to get the kids engaged and excited about the trip. Where did you go? We spent the whole 10 days in Tokyo and visited most of the top tourist spots. Our Airbnb was in Ryogoku, which is just outside the main city, and it is the suburb where the Sumo live and train. Here we visited the Edo Museum and the Sumo stadium (unfortunately there was no tournaments on when we were there). We spent a morning walking through the Imperial Gardens, shopping for Anime in Electric Town. We visited the bright lights of Shibuya and crossed the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. We were lucky enough to be there during Cherry Blossom season, so we joined the locals and ate Bento boxes under the Cherry Blossoms in Sumida River Park. We also visited Tsukiji fish markets which was an experience in itself, hundreds of tiny shops and stalls selling fresh seafood. Here we ate king crab, oysters, sashimi and eel all straight from the markets. We visited the Senso-ji Buddhist temple, which is surrounded by street food vendors and gift shops. We wandered the streets of Harajuku, Shinjuku and Ginza eating and looking for unique experiences and gifts. There is a surprise around every corner. As an
example we stumbled across a bunny cafe on the fourth floor of a non-descript building. Here Steph and the kids got to hold and feed rabbits, but it turned out they also had baby otters, so the kids fed and played with baby otters. Plus of course we went to Disneyland, which was one of the best experiences we had. The kids loved our day there. The rides were unbelievable and the staff and whole place was first class. How did you get there? We flew Qantas direct to Narita Airport, and then used the trains the whole time we were there. What were your first impressions of Japan? Initially it was a bit overwhelming getting from the airport to your accommodation, the train stations are busy, but be assured it is organised chaos. Our first impression was how helpful and nice the locals were. We arrived at night and Will was experiencing travel sickness. On the train a Japanese lady saw our predicament and gave us some ginger chews to help settle his stomach, and from that point on we could not find a rude local anywhere. We were approached on several occasions with offers of help whenever we looked lost or confused. Was it what you expected? It was everything we expected and more. We went there for the food and it did not disappoint, every corner you turned there was a new food experience. The main surprise was how cheap it was to eat. On average we could eat lunch or dinner for under $50, that’s for five people. And that’s good quality food in small restaurants, not take away from Macca’s. Meals included ramen, tempura, okonomiyaki and katsu curry. Also was amazed how good the service was at every shop, restaurant and tourist spot we visited. The city is spotlessly clean, I can’t remember seeing a single piece of litter, and this is strange as there are no public bins on the streets. What was your favourite experience in Japan? I think Steph and I would say the food. It is such a great food city, and it was the small family-run restaurants that were the best. These usually are close to the train stations in small alleyways. The kids would say either Electric Town or Disneyland. What tips would you give Ipswich residents thinking of going there? Tokyo is cheaper than you think. If you go through traditional methods hotel accommodation can be very expensive. My initial quotes for hotel accommodation through a travel agent was $7000, but we booked a unit through Airbnb and it cost $2100 for 10 nights. If you eat where the locals eat you can save heaps and eat great food for really good prices. Get a Suica card and use the trains, after a day you will get use to the crowds and we were on and off them all day everyday.
The Sewells loved the street food (above left ) and Tokyo Disneyland
Takeshita Dori - the main shopping street in Harajuku, the Tokyo home of pop culture
A selection of Miso pastes in a department store in Tokyo.